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Trusting God When It Feels Like He Isn’t Listening

Happy New Year!


What’s Worse, Turning 40 or When Someone Burns Your House Down?


Connecting, Inspiring & Encouraging Women! Praise and Coffee Nights Women meeting for coffee. Sharing life, laughter and the love of Jesus. Coffee and church building not required.



Winter 2011 Praise and Coffee the Magazine A quarterly online publication. Founder and Editor

Sue Cramer

Praise and Coffee Talk 10| What are Praise and Coffee Nights 12| The Heart of Praise and Coffee Nights 68| Praise and Coffee South Carolina Style 70| We Love Hearing From You


Denise Dykstra Submission Guidelines: 1. Anyone is welcome to submit articles or testimonies. 2. Submissions by women who have attended or hosted a Praise and Coffee event will be considered first 3. Testimonies can be personal or connected to your experience at a Praise and Coffee event. 4. Articles that will be considered are to be encouraging and inspiring. 5. Humorous articles and funny stories are encouraged! 6. Length of submission should be 400-750 words. 7. Submissions will be read and considered among the Editor and coEditor. 8. We do not pay for articles, they are on a volunteer basis. 9. Submissions need to include: Name Email Website (if applies) Short (100 words or less) bio 10. Email submissions to our Co-Editor:

Features 40| When God Calls You Out of the Ministry and Into the World 58| Making Connections 62| What’s Worse, Turning 40 or Your House Burning Down? Marriage & Family 48| Trusting God When It Feels Like He Isn’t Listening Beautiful You 22| Run with Endurance 32| God Improvements vs. Self Improvements In Every Issue 6 | From the Editors 10| What Are Praise and Coffee Nights? 52| For Caffeinated Moms Like You 72| Lessons From Lauren For advertising info, contact Sue at:


Volume 1~Issue 2


Sue Cramer Magazine Editor and Founder of Praise and Coffee

ello girlfriends! As we step into 2011, I have such a full heart! I am crazy-thrilled about the amazing women God has put into my life and you are one of them. I read this quote and it sums up how I feel about my current season and all that I want to say to you today...

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

Anna Quindlen

My heart swells at the thought of us putting down the masks, picking up the mirrors and saying– YOU, YOU are valuable and worth fighting for! Stop trying to be someone you are not. No one else can “do you” better! Let‟s make 2011 the year we begin the work of becoming ME (or YOU, or US...oh, you know what I mean)!


Denise Dykstra Magazine Co-Editor

appy New Year Greetings! Here in Michigan, it‟s the dead of winter. Cold. Frozen. Dark. But it‟s also a great time to get out and enjoy the company of others. At like, say, a coffee house, so you are out of your house that has all those walls closing in on you and warm yummy sweet coffee drinks await you as well as… …friends. Who are right there with you, no different than you, all there for the same reason. Just being together and encouraging each other in life‟s journey, looking to our Savior for answers in our day to day life. That‟s what Praise and Coffee is all about. And just in case you can‟t get out, this ezine helps bring that moment TO you. I am not sure how you found us, I just know it wasn‟t any accident that you did. As you read our second edition, I hope you are encouraged and you laugh and feel hugged. Know you are a blessing and loved. Sue and I drank more coffee than we can recall putting this together, so how about you brew a mug and settle in? Thanks for visiting with us!


Praise and Coffee Nights is joine

Partnering with these incredible women’s ministries ‌.c

Online conferences and training for women ministries online

Daily encouragement and online devotions

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ed with Inspired Hearts Media!

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Monthly Online & Magazine Encouraging women to live lives that glorify Christ

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What are P ra is e and C offee Ni ghts


Click here for more info 10


You could call Praise and Coffee the “accidental ministry” because it started out as a blog with no intention of being anything more. Sue Cramer decided to gather a few girlfriends in Michigan for coffee one evening and she (teasingly) called it a “Praise and Coffee Night”. The next day she blogged about it and suddenly women all over the country wanted to start Praise and Coffee Nights in their community. The vision of this ministry is to connect women with the God who passionately loves them and link them up with other women on similar journeys. Many amazing women with the same heart and desire are now part of this growing team. Praise and Coffee Nights are meeting in several different states and even other countries. The ministry of Praise and Coffee includes the website, Praise and Coffee Nights, videos and the Magazine.



Heart of

Praise and C By Co-Founder of Praise and Coffee Nights Melissa Mashburn


Melissa Mashburn

Coffee Nights It

was a cold and windy night in Michigan. I had traveled up to Plainwell, Michigan to speak to a group of incredible women at their Praise & Coffee Night with my dear friend and ministry founder, Sue Cramer. It was a night full of laughter, amazing worship, and true connections. 13

The stories we shared; our journey and how our paths crossed all led us into a great discussion about how God is using this ministry to connect the hearts of women all over the world. What a sweet and beautiful memory that night is to me now, but what I wasn’t prepared for was that the next evening I would experience the true heart of Praise & Coffee Nights. 14

The night was simple, but the anticipation and sheer excitement was building as I found out that Sue had invited six friends over to her house that I have known from the internet for years. In that moment, I became a little girl filled with giggles and silliness. The smile on my face was from ear to ear and as each friend arrived, I would burst into squeals of delight.



umping up and down, we hugged as if we couldn’t imagine letting go. These friends have become like family to me. Although we had never met face to face before their stories shared so transparently on their blogs that I knew them and they knew me. Each woman came bearing her signature dish of goodies and soon the kitchen table was full of all kinds of yummies. We looked as if we were preparing to be snowed in for the night, but if we were, we would be ready. The coffee was poured and the next thing I knew we were all sitting around the kitchen table. I remember thinking that it was funny that we were not on the couches as one might expect, but simply sitting at the kitchen table.


It was there at the kitchen table that we; ate, shared prayer requests, laughed, cried and marveled at how great our God is. It was there at that kitchen table where real community happened. It was there at that kitchen table that I saw the heart of Praise and Coffee Nights.

Speaking the truth in love, peeling back the layers of protection, letting your hair down, laughing, crying, and sharing a piece of your heart with other women that are sojourners on this journey of life with you.

Our getting together that night was not to host a Praise & Coffee Night. It was just simply to get this group of women together for such a time as this, but what God did in our midst was bigger than any of us had expected. What God did that night was to knit our hearts together forever.

It saw community happen in the coffee mill with a group of seventy women and I saw community happen at the kitchen table with seven women. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV

It strikes me that God would use two Praise & Coffee Nights, back to back to really show how rich these nights can be. The impact each of these nights made on me will have a lasting impact, but I want you, sweet sister, to know this…both were Praise & Coffee Nights.

That is the true heart of Praise & Coffee Nights. Father God, thank you that you continue to bring women together that have a heart for community through Praise & Coffee Nights. Thank you for what you are doing right before our eyes…you are amazing and we are humbled to see community happen for your glory! Help us to be women who seek to serve you first in Jesus name, Amen.

We have shared about how that Praise & Coffee Nights happen in various sizes; Tall, Grande and Venti, but it was not until that night that I really grasped that in my heart. Praise & Coffee Nights are about women getting together to share the highs and lows of their life in a safe place with women who truly care about them.

What about you… Have you started a Praise & Coffee Night in your area? If yes, fantastic…what can we do to help you more? If no, then what are you waiting for?

That’s it! The heart of Praise & Coffee Nights is community! Isn’t that what most of us long for? We want to have friends that will love us through the bad stuff and cheer us on in the good stuff. We long to know that someone cares enough to be real with us.

If you have attended a Praise & Coffee Night, tell us what was your favorite part of the night? We’d love to share it in a future issue!

Melissa Mashburn has partnered with Sue Cramer and serves as the CoCo-Founder of the ministry of Praise and Coffee Nights

Visit her website: Melissa Mashburn in Mel’s World


Start a Praise and Coffee Night

in your community!!

Learn more here! Praise and Coffee Nights 18

For where 2 or 3 gather together because they are mine, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

Plainwell, MI (the original!)

Clio, MI

Lititz, PA

Reno, NV Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Henderson, NV Summerville, SC Prescott, AZ


If thorn removal were sufficien Only grace

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My g 20

nt, God would always grant it. e is sufficient.

grace is sufficient for you...� 21

Run With

Casie Dussia is a small business owner and a personal trainer that ministers to womenâ€&#x;s soul, mind and body and is the founder of RWE~Run with Endurance. She lives in Southwest Michigan and enjoys life with her husband John and son. Casie is a team partner to the Praise and Coffee Night ministry in Plainwell, MI. Email: 22

“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 This piece of scripture is extremely close to my heart. About 5 years ago, I began running as a form of exercise. I started out running about 2 miles at a time 3 times a week, then 3 miles at a time, then 4 miles at a time up to 5 times a week. I felt my body growing leaner, stronger. Every time I pushed past those uncomfortable feelings of sore muscles, burning chest, and side stitches, my endurance grew! Looking back at that time, I now realize that my relationship with God was working in the same way. Every time I turned to God for strength, resisted the enemy, or stood firm in God’s word, my spiritual endurance grew! There were certainly times that I experienced uncomfortable feelings, just like when I’m running, and still do at times. But, patiently and faithfully relying on God continued to grow my endurance, and continues to keep me focused on the finish line! God showed me through this journey how important it is for us to maintain all aspects of our health - physically, mentally, and spiritually - in order to achieve the beautiful plan He has for us. I now use my endurance journey to help others. I recently began my Run with Endurance ministry to help women move forward boldly in their lives, with confident endurance, knowing God created each and every one of us thoughtfully and purposefully! I am thankful that God continues to grow my endurance daily, physically and spiritually. I now run marathons, and each race and every training run in between, I run for God. It’s my little way of showing Him that I am focused and will never give up, I am ready to run this race with endurance! See the following pages to run this race yourself or grab some girlfriends and run it together!


Praise and Coffee For the race

Written by: Sue Cramer


asie has a passion to help women get healthy and strong. Sheâ€&#x;s been using her knowledge of health and exercise to help women for years and recently put these gifts into practice by starting a weekly group called (RWE) "Run with Endurance."

It has been life changing for me! She invited a group of gals (myself included) to meet at a local coffee shop (the same one we host our Praise and Coffee Nights at) and she shares keys to health and wholeness from God's Word. After a time of inspiration we all set out with a girlfriend or two (someone matched to our fitness level) and walk or run on routes that Casie has planned out for us. If we have time, we stick around afterwards for coffee and snacks. It has been life changing for me! The accountability and encouragement of this group is just what I needed. At 43 years old, I had never run a day in my mantra was: "the

only reason you run is if you are being chased." 24

partners with


of your life! But, this October I started to walk/run. I was only able to run about 2 minutes at a time...a very awkward and painful 2 minutes at that! Slowly and progressively I increased my running time, working on my treadmill at home 2-3 times a week and then once on Friday's with my RWE girls. I am now able to run between 2-3 miles consistently. This is an enormous accomplishment for me! I never dreamed I could do this!


'm sharing this to encourage any of you that feel the nudging to start moving. Here are a couple suggestions:

1. Find a girlfriend that also wants to start moving and set up a day to get together. 2. Go to and check out their podcast for a Couch to 5K workout plan...this was a huge help to me and I used it at home for 8 weeks. 3. Start a RWE with a few friends!!! Use the 9 week layout on the next two pages of this magazine.

Casie has a vision to see RWE grow to other communities and plans to have clothing and product line along with hosting races to help raise funds for local charities. 25

NO more excuses! I'm too tired. I don't feel good. My back hurts. I did that. Over and over again until I was so out of shape I would get tired walking up the stairs to my bedroom. I wanted health but didn't want to make any sacrifices to get it. That doesn't work. I was making decisions every day to let my health go downhill. It was time to make day at a time...that would increase my stamina, endurance and overall health. And dropping a few of these pounds would help more than my's expensive to have to keep buying bigger clothes! I know that January practically throws up on us with “health and fitness� but this is not a "New Year's" decision!! I started this in October, and you can start it any day of the week, month or year! There is no magic bullet to starting on the 1st day of the year, the magic comes when you START and then continueone day at a time. Can I tell has also taught me so much about pressing through the pain-in ALL things. God is strengthening my walk with Him on this journey too!

Because I love you, Sue


No Fail Steps to a NVIRONMENT Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” NLT

Are the friends you are surrounding yourself with supportive of your health goals? Is your family s This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, not only do I need you, but I need earthly support! I ask that cept my health goals. I need my family to not only be supportive of me, but also be conscientious of thei


UTRITION 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Don‟t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, w

What are you feeding your temple? What does the bible say about nutrition? Are your food cho Satan to sow illness and disease into your body by eating foods filled with preservatives, toxins, a This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, I need you to help me make right eating choices in a world gone wro the nutrients contained in the plants you created for Adam and Eve - amino acids, vitamins, minerals, anti guide my nutritional choices. I want to be fully nourished so that I can accomplish the good plans you ha


ETERMINATION Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will so

Are you setting tangible goals? Are you focused on achieving them? Are you completely trusting ing that He is walking with you on this journey? This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness! I know you are with me and desire g temptations, please show me how to resist. The opposite of determination is weakness. Your weakness is


NITY Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves

Are you allowing stress over relationships to affect your health, without even realizing it?? Are yo emy to plant false thoughts in your head about or towards others? This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, help me build healthy, peaceful relationships. Help me see people t as I do, that they are working through. Continue to remind me that by keeping my mind and body health times of dispute, please remind me to call on You instead of putting all of the stress on my own shoulders my‟s attempts to attack our relationships! Amen!


ESPONSIBILITY Galatians 6:4 “For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” NLT

Are you taking responsibility for your own healthy/unhealthy actions? Are you justifying your acti you respecting God‟s body?? This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, I don‟t want to disrespect you or the body you have given me any lo make healthy choices is mine, and with Your help, I can make the right choices! Thank you for your might


This 9 week study was developed by Casie Dussia for our RWE ~Run with Endurance group, feel free to use it to start an RWE group in your community! Questions? Email:

a Healthier YOU!


supportive? t you help me make wise choice when it comes to my surroundings. I need friends that respect and acir own health! Iron sharpens iron - I want to sharpen and I‟m ready to be sharpened! Amen!

who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” NLT oices nourishing your body, or are you mindlessly eating empty calories? Are you opening the door for and chemicals?? ong. I know your plan for my body is not to be full of preservatives, toxins, and chemicals, but rather ioxidants, and enzymes. Your word is very clear on what I should be eating. Help me to let your word ave me! Amen!

oar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” NLT g God and relying on His strength to reach them? Are you diligent in waiting on God, patient in know-

good health for me! I trust You and I will not grow weary during this journey! When I am faced with s stronger than the greatest of human strength; how can I possibly fail with You beside me?! Amen!

s together with peace.” NLT ou seeking peace with others, or are you hoarding resentment, anger, sadness? Are you allowing the en-

through your eyes, with a forgiving heart, realizing that everyone has weaknesses and strongholds, just hy, I will be better equipped to deal with confrontations and disagreements with loved ones. During s. Please continue to remind me that by staying united in the Spirit, we slam the door shut on the ene-

ions?? Do have an “entitlement” mentality (“I worked out hard today - I deserve a Grande Latte!”) Are

onger! I am responsible for my own health. Please help me hold myself accountable. The decision to ty strength and direction! Amen!



RWE TTITUDE Ephesians 4:23 “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” NLT

Are you thinking about what you‟re thinking about? Do your thoughts line up with God‟s word has for your life? Do you look forward to taking care of your body, or do you look at it as work right direction?? This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, please renew my thoughts and attitude to line up with your plan f ing faith so that regardless of my circumstances, I trust You to guide me through. Please help me maint should be! Positive thoughts lead to positive actions! Please let me live by the Spirit in love, joy, peace right attitude so that I can see these things within myself and utilize them! Amen!


OURISHMENT Matthew 4:4 “Scriptures say, „People do not live by bread alone, but by every w

Are you nourishing your spirit with the word of God? Are you seeking God 1st and your goals 2 ishment?? This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, I need spiritual nourishment before I can move forward in achievin heart daily, and that can only be done with Your word! Also help me understand that a seed takes time nourishment you provide!! Amen!


ONFIDENCE Philippians 4:13 “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” N

Do you realize that God created you the way you are intentionally and you have a purpose bigge Are you speaking positive and kind words to yourself? Do you faithfully trust God, or are you fe This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for my gifts, talents and unique personality! Thank you you for continually molding me and shaping me through my weaknesses and strongholds, which draws Your creation of me is good and right. Please continue to remind me that there could never be a more


NDURANCE Hebrews 12:1 “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin th

Are you willing to endure what it takes to reach the finish line? Are your eyes fixed on the goals that set you back? Are you allowing God to grow your endurance by having consistent and conf This week‟s prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me keep my focus on the race before me, stripping an stance, faith to faith! This can only happen with complete confidence in you; I want consistent confiden the race before me. I am ready to endure what it takes to reach the finish line!! Amen!


d? Are you waking up in the morning and thanking God for another day closer to the good plan He k? Do you focus on the negative and setbacks, or do you celebrate the positive and small steps in the

for my life. My thoughts regarding my circumstances dictate how I handle them; I want an unwavertain positive mental health and a good attitude towards my body, even when it‟s not as healthy as it e, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Please help me have the

word that comes from the mouth of God.‟ “ NLT 2nd? Do you realize that your spiritual nourishment is even more important than your physical nour-

ng my physical health goals. Please remind me that I need to feed the seed you have planted in my e to produce and I need to be diligent in seeking You. I am hungry for your word! Thank you for the

NLT er than you can even imagine? Are you focusing on your weaknesses, or embracing your uniqueness? earfully questioning your choices. Are you trying to be someone you‟re not?? u for your continued strength, so that I may continue to move forward boldly, with confidence! Thank s me closer to You. Help me understand that loving and accepting myself and my body affirms that beautiful me!! Thank you for seeing me as a priceless treasure!! Amen!

hat so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” NLT that God has for your life, or are you allowing distractions, becoming entangled in worldly situations fident faith in Him?? ny hindrances that might be in my path. Allow my endurance to grow from circumstance to circumnce, not occasional confidence! Continue to remind me that I must maintain my health in order to run This 9 week study was developed by Casie Dussia for our RWE ~Run with Endurance group, feel free to use it to start an RWE group in your community! For more info email: 29

Lysa TerKeurst Lysa has a fun and inspiring blog, you have to check it out!

Click on products to purchase.


Candace Cameron Bure first became known to millions as a co-star on the hit ABC television series Full House. Today, like her brother Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains, Fireproof), she is the rare Hollywood actor who is outspoken about her Christian faith and how it helps overcome certain obstacles, like her struggle with food addiction. Bure’s recent weight loss was featured in US Weekly and People magazines as well as national talk shows including The View and NBC’s Today. In Reshaping It All, she continues the story, inspiring women to embrace a healthier lifestyle by moving faith to the forefront, making wise choices, and finding their worth in the eyes of God. Candace shares a candid account of her struggle with food, and ultimately her healthy outlook on weight despite the toothpick-thin expectations of Hollywood. More than a testimony, here is a motivational tool that will put readers on the right track and keep them there. In addition to practical advice, Candace offers a biblical perspective on appetite and self control that provides encouragement to women, guiding them toward freedom. Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness is available at: and Our good friend Darlene Schacht is the co-writer of this amazing book. Darlene is a fortysomething-year-old Christian mother of four whose children range in ages from eight to eighteen. She and her husband Michael, live in Manitoba, Canada, where they run a company that empowers writers to self-publish. Darlene also writes a great blog called “Time Warp WifeEmpowering Wives to Joyfully Serve”


God Improvements v


vs Self Improvements It’s 2011 and you are probably feeling the pressure to write some “New Year‟s Resolutions.” You may find yourself making a mental list of all of the things that you would like to change about yourself and then come up with a number of goals to make yourself better. But be careful, because I think that self improvement can get you off track if you don‟t have the right mind set. What perspective are you using to drive your goals, a worldly or Godly one, and what really needs to change? There are 5 areas that I believe will be worthwhile as long as you look at them “God-Style.” Tera Secord is a middle school health teacher that enjoys teaching people of all ages how to work on being their personal best in all dimensions of life. She lives in Southwest Michigan and enjoys life with her husband Tim and two children, Madison and Gabriel. Tera is a team partner to the Praise and Coffee Nights ministry in Plainwell, MI. Email:


Before you even think about what type of goals that you should strive for in 2011, it is so important to take time before the Lord and pray about what He wants you to work on. Instead of just watching all of the infomercials about the latest fitness gadgets and juicers, really take some time to get alone with God and pray about what He wants you to focus on this New Year. You may even want to set aside a whole “self” day, and fast and pray about what God is speaking to you about. I know, some of you are saying, “Yeah right, I can’t get a whole day to myself.” If that is the case, even setting aside a window of time would be a great way to approach talking with the Lord.

After listening to God, see what verse He is laying on your heart to make your “verse for the year.” It is so empowering to have a verse that God has laid on your heart, and then focus on really applying it to your life every day that year. I have a good friend that even recommends writing the verse on your mirror in a dry-erase marker so that you see it very day right away. Who doesn‟t take a least a few minutes every day to be in front of the mirror? Make it your focus.


Next, think about what physical area really needs improvement in your temple. I like to remember that my body is God‟s, and it is merely on loan to me. I think about how when I borrow an item from someone, I really try to give it back to them in good shape. Shouldn‟t I do the same in this context? There are so many dimensions of physical fitness; flexibility (our range of motion), muscular strength (how much power our muscles can exert), cardiovascular (our capacity to keep our heart, lungs and blood vessels working with oxygen) and our body fat percentage (our percentage of lean to fat ratio). I am not going to go into great detail about what each of these areas should be, but is one of them especially lacking? More importantly, is your physical health getting in the way of you doing God‟s work? It is great to work on improving or maintaining all of these areas, but chose one to really focus on improving.


How are you doing mentally? Do you find that you have brain fog a lot and a hard time concentrating? Are you one of those people who says, “I can‟t remember anything?”

The great news is there are ways to improve your mental clarity and decrease that foggines

One way is doing daily activities in different ways. For instance, driving a different way to w or eating with your non-dominant hand. It is so important for your brain to make new pathw and changing things up is a great way to do that. Another really helpful way is to eat less sugar and starchy carbohydrates. Choosing whole foods and whole grains versus processed foods is a great way to combat b slumps, not to mention your body fat can decrease if you stay away from processed food.



work than normal, ways

brain (because yes, 2011 will have stress) There are so many areas to improve, but lastly, make sure you are finding ways to de-stress each day. What do I mean by “de-stress?” It is very important to find ways daily to help your body effectively cope with the distress that you will encounter. Finances, family issues, no matter what, you will have stress, of this you can count on. The good news about this is you can cope through Christ. Reading scriptures that cover the exact situation you are encountering is so helpful. Writing them on sticky notes to post them where you will see them. Other effective ways to de-stress are deep breathing, Yoga, and relaxation techniques. The list goes on and on, but it is a choice to do them that is often skipped. Remember, you will be better for others if you take care of you. If you feel overwhelmed with all of the areas that I have listed, then start with step one. Getting time alone with God will always help you to put the rest into perspective, and His perspective versus yours. You may even need to tell God that you don‟t even know where to start. If you take time to listen, He help you to discern His will for you. Taking any step forward will help you to make positive changes, and more importantly, God changes! You can do this, make 2011 a year of God improvements versus self improvements.


So you fell down… don’t cry, make snow angels!



When God Calls You out of “ministry”

and into the World World!!

Written by: Sue Cramer



rook Taylor and her cohost Tommy Dylan took the controversial leap from Christian to secular radio about 3 years ago and now make up the morning team of Tommy and Brook on STAR 105.7 in Grand Rapids, MI. A decision that was much prayed over but not understood by many in her Christian audience.

Brook loved sharing scripture, praying on Christian radio and preaching the words of Jesus to a Christian audience but longed to reach others with the love of God, to touch the lives of those who would never turn on Christian radio.

Brook always knew that her job on the Christian station was not her final destination in radio. She always had the sense that she would not stay in the Christian venue. She felt that God did not prepare her, as His missionary, to stay-but to GO. To go out into the world around her and minister in a whole new way.

Thankfully there are those that do stumble across Christian radio and find hope on the airwaves but she wanted to have a more direct connection to those outside the mostly Christian community.

I think Brook‟s story was so compelling to me because on a smaller scale, I had lived it. Like Brook, I loved ministering to the body of Christ. For me it was women‟s ministry, writing and teaching Bible studies, leading worship and serving in all capacity in my local church. But also like Brook I had a hunger to get out beyond the four walls of the church and spend more time rubbing elbows with those who didn‟t regularly attend traditional church services...or in Brook‟s case, those who weren‟t listening to Christian radio.

One day Tommy and Brook got that opportunity. STAR (Clear Channel) gave them a call and said they would love to have them as their morning team. They had prayed that God would expand their influence, open new doors, and here was their opportunity!


Pictures from Tommy & Brook’s trip to American Idol 2009.

Their employers at the Christian station, while saddened to lose them, saw the opportunity for them to be „salt and light‟ and gave them their blessing and agreed on a two-week notice. Unfortunately, as these things go, not everyone was happy and they‟re leaving ignited controversy. To sum up that part of the story, Tommy and Brook were never able to finish-up that last 2 weeks and sadly never able to say goodbye to the audience so near and dear to their hearts.

With: Brooke White, Paula & Randy

As I interviewed Brook for this article I could sense the deep pain that decision had brought both Tommy and Brook. With a lack of information out there, people jumped to their own conclusions and said (and wrote) some very hurtful things about them. I could relate in so many ways to what she was feeling. When Mark and I stepped out of pastoral ministry to pursue business ventures and let God use us differently, people couldn‟t comprehend that we would step away from the local church ministry and some of them misspoke the truth based on their understanding, without ever talking directly with us about it.


For Tommy and Brook, rumors began to fly but the plain truth of the matter is, this team made their decision based on their desire to be used of God in a brand new way. And I can testify that this is whatâ€&#x;s happening with them. Their show is number one in some of our local demographics and they bring joy and laughter to hearts everyday! They have a family-friendly show that incorporates everything from recipes to conversation about the importance of family time and activities. Their Facebook page is filled with comments of those touched by their show. What a great testimony! One of the many wonderful things they have done is pioneer a project they call TOY (think-outsideyourself) which encourages their listeners to reach out and help those around us in a variety of ways. This year at Christmas they raised $245,000 for a local childrenâ€&#x;s hospital!! What a great way to touch the lives of those in their community!


Before I ever listened to them on STAR 105.7, I saw a “Tweet” by Tommy and Brook and I instantly knew I would love said “Just played Chris Tomlin‟s „How Great is Our God‟ and then Pink. Salt and Light!” How cool is that?! I had to hear their story and I‟m so glad that I did. She encouraged me to remember what ministry is all about… people. Jesus ministered in places that the religious leaders would never go, that‟s what we love about Him! This team walked through a door that I believe God opened for them and it‟s been a wild ride ever since! From talking with kids and families everyday– you must check out Noah on their website– to spending hours in conversation with Paula Abdul and eventually flying out to meet the whole American Idol group.

Tommy & Brook with our own local celeb Matt Giraud

Do they miss some of the sweet people they know from the Christian radio? Of course, but that‟s part of the sacrifice of stepping into new waters with God. Tommy and Brook love the Lord with all their heart and I see and hear them love others everyday.

I am so blessed to have Brook as my special guest at my next Praise and Coffee Night here in Plainwell, MI to talk with me about their “adventure” and share with others the many ways God has used them in the secular radio market. I really wanted to share Brook‟s story with you because I believe it is so important for us to offer grace to those who make decisions that we don‟t understand. It does the body or Christ a great disservice to attack one another‟s decisions. We shine for Him when we support and pray for each other. And I also think we need to be careful not to limit “ministry” to be within the church walls and Christian community. Sometimes we are called to step out of our comfort zone within the Christian community and touch this world with the love and grace of God! And that IS ministry in it‟s sweetest form. 44

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Brook, I’m thankful for the opportunity. God is definitely using her as “salt and light” in our community. Brook is also an active member of her church family serving as a singer on the worship team.

As I was putting this article together I found out that their show was just rated

#1 morning show for families in West Michigan! Congrats!!

Can you tell the community missed them over vacation?! Tommy and Brook have made this phrase popular on their show as they encourage listeners everyday to ‘make it the best day ever!’

See their webpage: Tommy & Brook

Click here to find them on Facebook.

Click “Listen Live Now” to hear them on your computer weekday mornings from 5-10 AM from anywhere in the world!




When it feels like

He isn’t listening! 48

But the longing for another child was huge for me and could be consuming some days. I didn‟t understand why I continued to have these thoughts and desires and yet Shawn felt completely different. I asked God to change this longing in my heart if it were not of Him, and I questioned if I was not being content with the blessing he had already provided.

s I sat in bible study that week one of the questions read, “Tell about a time when you knew it had to be God because there are no COINCIDENCES.” I could not tell the first answer that came to my mind because we had not told our family yet, but I wanted to yell “I‟m pregnant!” This is a long but amazing story of God‟s faithfulness woven through it. With all the work of being a mom, I see daily that children are one of the biggest blessings and gifts from God. They say the coolest things, have the softest skin, make me smile all the time and yet cry in frustration. Best of all they‟ve brought me closer to my heavenly Father as I‟ve needed His guidance to raise them. And the love that parents have for their children gives me a glimpse of His amazing love for us. I have wanted more children for about 2 years but my husband did not share that same desire. Really, Shawn and I didn‟t see eye to eye on this at all. His saying was, “Two and done.” He loves our girls but had no desire for more children. He thought I was crazy for wanting to go back to the baby stage and give up the ability to „get up and go.‟ Our girls are 7 and 4 years old so, yes, they still need us in many way but we also have a lot of freedom at this point.

I can‟t remember the date, but I remember crying out to the Lord again, yet this time was different. I listened to the song “Your Hands” by JJ Heller, and wept through most of it. Out of frustration and a longing that was not going away, I laid every detail of my inmost desires at His feet. I don‟t remember an immediate change in my heart but I do remember a peace that I had not had before.

Shawn with our girls.


Sure, some women would have just gone off their birth control and let nature take it‟s course, but I trust Shawn and know that God gives him wisdom as the leader of our house, so I never considered letting an “accident happen.” I decided to drop the subject and put it in God‟s hands. Still, it was difficult not being on the same page. In June I told Shawn that if we were done having kids I would like to get off birth control and wanted him to have a vasectomy. I asked him to do a little research and that I would wait, but was ready to get the ball rolling on this. A few days later we were out on our back porch, and he shocked me when he said, “why don‟t you stop the birth control and we will see what happens?” WHAT?! “You know that means I could get pregnant right?” was my response, thinking he might have lost his mind or forgot for a minute. He followed with, “I know I keep trying to control everything and the more I give up, the more I see Gods blessing and I don‟t want to get in the way of His will.” Shawn, the man who wanted to have a vasectomy right after our second was born-while I was still recovering from having her-now wanted to give it to God! God had changed his heart! And I knew that this change was ONLY due to the Lord and His will, not ours!


And guess what? Four months later we are due June 24th! God is good and we are looking forward to meeting the next blessing to our family! I have learned through this situation that when we cry out to God and feel like the answer is no or feel that he is not listening, He is. It may just not be the right time or His will right now. I love that our heavenly Father loves us enough to not always give in when we really want something. Having a desire or passion that your husband does not share can be very hard and if this is you, I encourage you to not give up on prayer and continue to ask God to plant His desires in your heart, and He will.

Jaime Rogers is part of the Praise and Coffee Team in Plainwell, MI. Jaime has been married 9 years to her husband Shawn and they have been blessed with two beautiful girls. She loves her quiet time, writing and studying God's word. She also loves hanging out with girlfriends!! You can find her blogging at:


F For Caffeinated Moms Like You! Denise Dykstra, co-editor of Praise and Coffee the Magazine. Denise is heavily caffeinated and joyfully married to her truck driving, farming husband. They reside in Michigan raising their four boys (ages 11 to 4) on a hobby farm that keeps them hopping busy. She updates friends on her sons‟ latest escapades and caught snakes on her blog “Life With Four Boys...Coffee Please!”


Fear and the New Year A

fter the busy insanity that Christmas and New Years brings, I finally feel a moment to breathe as we settle into January.

Momentarily, of course. I‟m a countdown to spring sort of gal. I am all about bare feet and beach days and flowers and fresh veggies. But I also sort of feel a bit of panic. I don‟t normally admit it, it seems quite silly, but it‟s there just the same. As I fill out my momAgenda for the year, flipping through last years pages and glancing at the calendar to make sure I copy all the correct dates of birthdays and anniversaries and “last year we did this” sort of things, I stare at all those blank pages and wonder what will be recorded upon them. 53

When Panic Knocks

What if I don’t like it? What if I mess it up royally? Cuz I could. Because I have. If I just knew what to expect…maybe then I could plan. Just a bit. A heads up would be so…helpful. I was reminded of this just today. I was picking up and going over my “to do” list in my head. Monday, the day I have off so I needed to get the dinners ready for the week because making dinner on the day I worked always proves insane. And the calls I had to make, the calls I was expecting, and all in all I was not really paying much attention to my youngest chattering away. But then I realized in mere days he would be five. My youngest. Would be five. And in this year we were in, he would be starting school for five full days a week.

I’m not sure I know how to cope with that. As I moved on to laundry and he began to set up his train set, my mind was still racing with the to do list but still thinking how I had no idea what this year holds. And it frightens me. Panics me a bit. Not that I can change it, not that I expect anything bad, it’s just the unknown. Abraham set up his track, it had sharp sudden ends here and there, a bunch of track from one end of the room to the other, making no sense and yet he happily chugged his train along. “Back up! Back up!” I heard him say in his best conductor voice. “Okay, see you next stop!” My husband, who happened to be home and happens to help build roads for a job, was finishing his coffee. I hinted to him how much Abraham would like it if Daddy played trains with him.


Pretty soon, father and son were on the floor tearing the track Abraham had carefully laid out to put together a flowing circle track, with a bridge and a tunnel even! As they posed for the picture they knew I would have to take, it hit me. It was God talking to me through my family again.

Like I needed to trust God to tear into my carefully laid plans and trust HIM that if I would just believe he is the author of my life and lean into His leading, my life will go so much smoother. With so much less beating myself up. And could be down right fun. Instead of just worrying about the future – which, yes, you do need to prepare for – I need to trust in my Heavenly Father and enjoy the moment I have now. Before I worry it away and miss the gift it is.

Abraham had worked hard to put together his train track. He was happy to go along with it, content to play his day away, even if it had abrupt stops and it stretched forever so his knees would be getting a work out over our dirty carpet. He was happy for the time he had to play.

To have joy, that true gift of joy, even if the moment I’m in just seems to be a dead end road block that I need to turn around and deal with so I can go chugging along with track before me.

But he was willing to let his Daddy, who knew how to make a working, flowing track, tear his masterpiece apart and rebuild.

So under today’s date in my momAgenda, it’ll read “Played trains with Abraham. It was blast. Remember what I learned about trusting God…” 2011 is off to a great start

Because he trusted his Daddy to only make it better for him.


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Stacey Davis


onnections! When God puts us right where we belong!


„m a big fan of Praise and Coffee nights.

When I was first invited I wasnâ€&#x;t really sure what to expect, but a Praise and Coffee night involved two of my favorite things, praise and coffee. When I ventured out the first time I was not disappointed. There was plenty of praise and fantastic coffee but even more than that there was a room full of women who loved God like I do.


eyond fellowship I discovered that Praise and Coffee was also about meeting people who might influence your life. I never imagined that these nights out would bring me to the place where I am now.


Making Connections

A few years ago I picked up my first mommy devotional. It was called: “Just Give Me a Little Piece of Quiet:

Daily Getaways for a Mom‟s Soul “ by Lorilee Craker.

The title alone spoke to me, telling me to buy it I wanted a little piece and quiet!! It was filled with short stories and devotionals that spoke to me as a mom. I felt like Lorilee was right there in the trenches with me and understood what I was going through. She opened up a whole new genre of books to me. I read in her bio that she was from Grand Rapids. A funny momwriter in my neck of the woods. Maybe I could do that one day, I remember thinking.

Lorilee introduced me to Alison Hodgson. Alison and Lorilee are both members of the Guild which is a writing group. Alison and Lorilee were so encouraging when I told them I was starting to write some of my own stuff. But I shared with them that I didn‟t know where to go with it or how to break into the field of writing. Alison gave me information on a Christian Writer‟s conference Breathe that was being held later in the fall and encouraged me to attend. When I went to the conference it felt like an extension of Praise and Coffee nights; I was in the midst of wonderful people who loved God and showed His love to me. I learned more, was encouraged more, and gained a confidence in my writing that I hadn‟t had before.

I never in my wildest imagination thought that I would ever get a chance to meet someone famous, someone whose book I read and adored. But that is exactly what happened. At the June 25th Praise and Coffee night Lorilee came and spoke about her new book Through the Storm written with Lynn Spears. She was amazing; I was in awe. I waited patiently to have a moment to speak to her, and again, I was amazed. When we spoke she sounded just like she did in her book! She took the time to speak to me and listened attentively to my questions when I asked her about her writing.

So now, I have even more of a reason to love these nights out. These nights are not only an opportunity to have a great night out filled with praise, and coffee, and girlfriends, and laughs; they can also be about meeting people who lead you to the place you were meant to be.

Stacey Davis is the proud wife of National Guardsman Varren , the joyful mom to two little girls, Caitlyn and Molly, and a loyal fan of all things coffee. When not drinking coffee she volunteers her time as coordinator of the Sisterhood of Motherhood, a moms group, (where we serve coffee!), various women’s ministries and co-leads her daughter's Girl Scout troop. Her passion is serving the Lord and supporting moms. During naptime she spends time either writing or watching old episodes of Cold Case. Your can check out her jottings at which she co-writes with Colleen Stout.


Available at

Author Lorilee Craker Watch for her latest book coming Summer 2011! 61

What’s worse? Turning 40 or

your house

burning down?

By: Alison Hodgson


One morning, several days after my 30th birthday, I glanced in the mirror and was astonished to see twin fissures between my eyebrows, so deep they threatened the equilibrium of anyone who came within sight and that my forehead resembled a thoroughly, if unevenly, ploughed field. My face had fallen and couldn‟t get up. I wasn‟t sure exactly when it happened. Was it possible to age 70 years in one night? Or had I been slowly wrinkling and shriveling, day-by-day losing my looks, and hadn‟t even noticed? How long had my husband Paul watched this sad decline? Had the horror of it silenced him? Was he bravely staying with me and my time-ravaged face for the sake of his vows and the children? Or did it happen overnight and I needed to warn him that a hideous crone had replaced the fresh girl he married? I clawed for the phone to call him at work. But then it occurred to me that, at any given movement, I might not know where my purse is but I never forget what I look like. I called my friend, Gayle, who is a few years older than I am.

“Did you get nutty around your 30th birthday?” I asked. She laughed. “Call Susie,” she said, referring to a mutual friend who was 31.

Did you get nutty around your 30th birthday?”

Turns out a lot of women get upset around a big birthday. Of course I knew that but, having been a natural girl and never into excessive primping, I figured I would be immune. And I certainly minimized how upsetting turning thirty could be. I thought forty was the big deal. It always had been to the old people when I was a child, with their repeat celebrations of turning 39 and talk of the Big 4-0. But I learned that thirty is the line of demarcation between youth and not so youthful, when you realize that all the things you thought would happen someday, might not. Just understanding that some of it was in my head helped. For several months afterwards I was scrupulous about keeping my forehead unfurrowed and was extra careful about applying sunscreen but eventually I forgot and when I glanced in the mirror I just saw my face, without judgment - unless I had a pimple or looked puffy from eating too much sugar but I‟d been doing that practically since birth - so everything was perfectly normal until I turned 35.


What’s worse...

Last summer, as my 40th birthday approached, I wasn‟t sure what to expect. Of course I was super duper, absolutely, positively clear that there was a cloud of crazy floating out there just waiting to burst, despite everyone‟s assurances that 40 is the new 30. (Not much of an assurance since I‟d already seen how that worked out.) Or is it that 50 is the new 40? (Which will be great in another decade!) Nevertheless, I knew that turning 40 is a big deal and that, however the cloud broke, I would make it through the storm, eventually.

My father had died the year, almost to the day, before my 35th birthday. He was 64: too young. I decided I wanted to die “full of years” as the Bible says, and determined to cherish my life. As unpalatable as aging is, the only alternative is death. I coasted into my 35th birthday with wisdom, clarity and peace. Almost immediately the twin fissures reappeared, as did the ever more deeply plowed field and I don‟t want to even consider a metaphor for what was going on at the edge of my lips, because it was just too scary.

All this was made moot when, two weeks before my birthday, someone burned my house down. All this was made moot when, two weeks before my birthday, someone burned my house down.

I took to wearing sunglasses every.single.minute and to applying makeup for the first time because my simple look of a little lipstick and mascara no longer cut it. Under-eye cream became my BFF and I raged that my mother hadn‟t started applying it inutero.

Yes, we (my husband Paul, our three kids, my daughter‟s friend, Hope, who was having a sleepover, our good dog Jack and a fledging sparrow our seven-year-old daughter rescued the day before) were all home, in our beds. Yes, we all escaped physically unharmed. No, we don‟t exactly know who or why he (arsonists are 99.9% of the time male) did it.

Eventually this too passed and I relaxed on everything but the under-eye cream; just because you are obsessive about something doesn‟t mean it‟s imprudent.


The morning of my birthday I looked in the mirror and didn‟t flinch. I leaned in to get a better look and despite the fact that I hadn‟t properly cleansed my face or worn make-up in eleven days, I knew I looked fantastic. “Alive looks great on you!” I told myself. “You wear it really, really well.” Nothing could get me down. Who cares if someone burned down my house! I was getting a new one! What did it matter that we lost everything we owned! I was clutter free for the first time ever! Shock is wonderful while it lasts. By the time mine wore off and I figured out that having a house fire isn‟t all that it‟s cracked up to be I was too busy rebuilding our life to be neurotic about turning 40.

And I had a raging case of PMS. It was during this inauspicious time that it occurred to me that my caloric intake exceeded my metabolic requirements, which sounds so correctable, except in my head it sounded a little more like:

For almost six months I able to outrun the cloud of crazy until the week before Christmas when I was trying to complete our inventory for insurance (wherein one gets to list every single thing one owned, its age, and whether one bought it new, secondhand or it was a gift.) all while doing the shopping, wrapping, cleaning and decorating for Christmas and packing for a trip to visit family out East.

You‟re OBESE and LAZY! How could you exercise so LITTLE and how DARE you even THINK about chocolate, let alone EAT it! YOU SHOULD BE SHOT! Or should I say HARPOONED? Oh yeah, and you‟ve lost your looks, YOU HAG!”

When someone is under duress, I often say, “Be gracious to yourself” but it rarely occurs to me to be gracious to myself or if it does, it‟s a practice I‟ve so little cultivated I don‟t even know how to start.

It goes without saying that I was doing all the regular duties of a loving wife/mother/bus driver, when I wasn‟t hiding under the covers locked in the fetal position.


But here‟s the good that comes from suffering, say, losing your home, or a parent or having a kid with special needs, or getting laid off, or struggling in a rotten marriage or having a terrible disease: others, in their generosity and goodness, show us how to love, even ourselves. If a lady, whose house burned down, told me that she was freaking out because she was under so much stress and feeling out of shape and run down I would encourage her to stand up straight, to check her water intake and increase it if necessary, to begin to listen to her body and stop eating when she‟s full and to look for small ways to be more active. So that‟s what I did and it worked. I didn‟t lose three dress sizes in three days, but I enjoyed the holidays and spent them having fun with my family rather than consumed by thoughts of self-loathing. The metaphor of fire burning away rubbish is a common one. I hope that love and grace have finally consumed the vestiges of vanity and irrational shame. They have for now, but check back with me next month and certainly in mid-July, 2015.

Alison Hodgson writes and speaks about all the gory details of writing, mothering and following Jesus. You can keep up with her at She lives in Michigan with her husband Paul, their children and their good dog Jack. Alison is a favorite guest speaker at our Plainwell Praise and Coffee Nights in Michigan.



Praise and E

very 6 weeks like clockwork is a scheduled Praise & Coffee night.

And every 6 weeks like clockwork It rains. Torrential downpours. Lightening. Thunder. Wind. But that doesn‟t keep them away. Monday after Monday they show up. Eager to fellowship with one another. Eager to share a meal. Eager to laugh and cry and pray and sing. And those times are the richest and sweetest times. Why? Because there‟s just a few of us gathered together – usually between 8-12 women from all walks of life. It‟s intimate.


d Coffee Nights W

e share heart to heart what God has been doing in our lives. We share our hurts, our frustrations, our joys, our triumphs. And we laugh! A lot!

Our group is a great mix of 3 churches – and we‟ve even had some visitors as far away as Beaufort, SC (about a 2 hour drive)! At first I was a little disappointed that our numbers weren‟t growing. I thought that there would be more ladies coming out and participating. But after a few meetings, I realized that this was a great way to meet with other women – in a small group setting so that we could really take time to share our hearts and enjoy the fellowship. I‟ve discovered that having a group this size forces us to really get to know one another. It gives us ample opportunity to forge friendships. When there are just a few of us, it‟s harder to keep from connecting. I find it a little humorous and yet very refreshing that the ladies count down the weeks until we meet again (not to mention we can also gauge the weather and expect a great rain!). You know what? Don‟t tell them, but I count down the weeks too! Never uncomfortable as the life of the party, Mary is no stranger to hosting events or being front and center. So for her, starting a Praise and Coffee night was an easy choice! She is a late 30-something (okay!okay! almost 40) wife and mom to two girls (14 and 4). When she's not leading worship or teaching at her home church, you can find her online designing websites and doing the social media thing! You can find her on her blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.


We love hearing from you!



The lessons I learn from

Lauren Written by: Sue Cramer

Girl friends!

These are from our trip to China to bring Lauren home. She had spent the first 2 years of her life in an orphanage. We were crazy about her from the first time we saw her. She’s six years old today and still making us smile. 72


his is a (blurred on purpose) picture of Lauren and another little girl from China. They are not old friends, in fact they met just 10 minutes before this was taken and yet just seconds after this they grasped each others hand and ran up the stairs. Lauren was playing in the jumbo treehouse filled with rambunctious children at the mall while this Momma had a quick latte and started thumbing through the book I‟d just picked up at Barnes and Nobel‟s. It happens all the time. They (adoptive parents) say that there is a red cord that connects the daughters of China. I‟m starting to believe it. Wherever we go she sees the little girls that look like her and she‟s drawn to them as if she knows they connect. It always makes me stop and smile. Not only because she has such a sense of unity with these little girls but also it reminds me of how we as women relate to others.

It‟s so beautiful to have healthy relationships with other women. We need to reach out, take a chance on new friends or connect with old ones.

We gravitate towards those like us. Think of the delight when we look at each other, old friend or new, and say, “ME too!!!” It makes us feel that we belong, that we‟re connected, we relate to one another and it validates us in some small way.

God just might use that relationship to sharpen you.

It takes the sense of loneliness away and we feel there is someone else that understands our journey, someone who “gets” us.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. NLT

And you know what...I think that is not only natural, it is so cool! I believe it‟s how God made us, relational, with a desire to join hearts with girlfriends.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

But you have to see it here in the KJV:

A good friend will put a smile on your face! 73

Want to start a Praise and Coffee Night

in your community? Go to: Follow the links to “Start a Praise and Coffee Night” Start with 2 or 3 girlfriends and see what happens!

Praise and Coffee P.O. Box 112 Martin, MI 49070 74

Profile for Praise and Coffee

Praise and Coffee Winter 2011  

A magazine to inspire and encourage women!

Praise and Coffee Winter 2011  

A magazine to inspire and encourage women!